Congratulations on finding someone you love enough to marry. When you have an ex and you share a child, getting married can be complicated by your relationship with the father of your child. Before you start making lots of wedding plans, you need to tell your ex about the changes in your life, according to child psychiatrist Mark Banschick, M.D. in the article, "New Love: How Do I Tell My Child and My Ex?" in Psychology Today.
Schedule a Meeting
Schedule a meeting with your ex before your daughter tells her dad, suggests Banschick. Meet in a public place if you are concerned about his response. Your announcement should come at least a year after your divorce or break-up and six months or so into your relationship to allow your child to cope with the changes that have already occurred. Your time with him should allow you to provide important details about him to your ex, such as whether he has children, what he does for a living, where you will live and if your daughter likes him. Assure him that you and your daughter will be safe in your fiancee’s care.
Tell your ex about the upcoming nuptials without your daughter present, giving him time to adjust to the news, suggests the Parenting website. You can schedule a second meeting when he can meet your fiancee. The second meeting could be a family affair so your ex can observe how your daughter and her future stepfather interact. Ask if he has concerns and listen carefully, addressing his points. Talk about the logistics of how your future husband will merge with your family, such as how discipline will be handled, financial considerations, visitation schedule and how things will change if you and your daughter move to a new location.
Only One Dad
Assure your ex that you know he is her only Dad and that your fiancee will not try to take his place, according to the National Center for Fathering. Suggest that your ex and your fiancee might meet to talk about the stepparenting role and how they can support each other to support your daughter. Tell your ex that you will do nothing to keep him out of his daughter’s life. You might talk about what your daughter will call her stepdad if he is concerned. Discuss how his extended family might react to the news and how interactions with large family groups should occur for events such as birthday parties and events where your daughter is a participant.
When Problems Arise
If your ex didn’t accept the news well, consider seeing a therapist with your daughter if she is old enough to understand what is happening, suggests Banschick. If she is an infant or young toddler, you can revisit the need for a therapist as she gets older and as her dad learns to deal with the situation. Suggest to your ex that the two of you should do whatever is best for your daughter, which should be an amicable relationship with your future husband.
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images